Monday, September 24, 2012

REVIEW: Hell's Pawn by Jay Bell

Hell's Pawn Hell's Pawn by Jay Bell
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

CAUTION: Small Spoilers

This Is Not MM-Romance

First things first, this book isn't a paranormal romance; it's urban fantasy. There's a love interest and a few sex scenes but ultimately the dude is in unavailable because Rimmon is still in love with his ex-boyfriend. Or current boyfriend depending on your interpretation; since that interpretation would mean the love interest is cheating and John, the protagonist, is the "other man," I don't apply to this interpretation.

I thought the love interest deluded himself that he was still in a relationship with his ex-boyfriend. He deluded himself on other issues too, one of which was the fact that he's an incubus and because of that he claim he is compelled to have sex with strangers. Not to mention it's his job as one of Hell's minions. Uh huh, right. Rimmon had this self-tormented persona going on, and it annoyed me.

I felt bad for John. I thought the "romance" subplot with the love interest could have been done away. I didn't think it add anything to the story except dashing readers of Romance's expectation.

The Shining Part of the Book

The world building was great! I love how the book used mythology from many parts of the world, especially when it included Eastern Asia. I could easily tell the research was done by the accurate way the gods and the afterlife worlds were depicted. The book didn't "reinvent" a facet of the mythology; it didn't have to. The book deftly tied multiple mythologies into one cohesive world.

The other fantasy part of the book, the non-mythology based part, was also well done. Keen readers might foresee the twist about the bad guys — the strange mechanical beings birthed from humankind collective desire for order, think Matrix and Terminator — but the twist didn’t strongly impress me as a cliché.

Now For the Bad News

Why didn't I rate the book higher? The characters weren't flat, the pacing didn't drag, the plot had no holes (that I was aware of). The book was told in 1st PoV exclusively from the protagonist's side, a POV I most prefer. Except for the "romance," the book was a solid read. So why didn't I rate the book higher?

The reason was John. I cheered for him but I wasn't fully enamored with the protagonist as I could have been. He didn't annoyed me; he just didn't stand out to me. He was the kind of guy you see on the streets in a busy city, walk by him, and forget about him a second later.

There wasn't much character development for the protagonist. Once John became Hell's Pawn, he did whatever was demanded of him with little thought. Not to say he was mindless or stupid — far from it, John lacked a sense of resolve. This bogged down the book for me.

To be fair, John gained his sense of resolve and some needed character development in a scene near the end as part of the rising action. Unfortunately, it occurred too late and too little. I realized that missing piece of John's characterization was a deliberate part of the story, but that was no consolation.

In Conclusion

I rate the book 2-stars for it was okay. The book was plot-driven. While engaging and lacking any glaring flaw, the book simply didn't leave a lasting impression. I was happy to read the book, but it was kind of the book I read once and then not read it again.

Readers looking for a LGBT standalone urban fantasy with a tightly wrapped HEA will enjoy Hell’s Pawn. Readers looking for a paranormal romance should look elsewhere.

Amazon GoodReads

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